Martha Jane Menzel, Interviewer, February 18, 2002
L. My name is Mary Lucille Sherman but it has made a lot of problems so I just now go by M. Lucille Sherman.
M. Lucille, can you tell me the date of your birth?
L. I was born April 1, 1913, April Fool’s Day. (giggles)
M. That’s right, but you’re no fool.
M. And uh, where were you born Lucille?
L. Well, I was born right there in that house next door.
M. Is that right?
L. I’ve lived, I lived here all my life.
M. Oh my goodness, right here in Henry County in Napoleon?
L. That’s right.
M. Oh my goodness, okay, um, what were your parents names, Lucille?
L. Well, my father’s name was Al Sherman and my mother’s name was Blanche and her maiden name was Blanche Flowers and she was from Holgate.
M. Is that right?
L. Uh, huh.
M. So when I mentioned Holgate before, you’re familiar with that too?
L. Uh, huh, that’s where my grandparents lived.
M. Very good and did you have any brothers or sisters?
L. Yes, I had, uh, one sister and one brother.
M. And what were their names?
L. Uh, Margaret and Richard and, uh, Margaret was a teacher in Napoleon City Schools for thirty-eight years and she had also taught in a one room school near Deshler called the Gribbell School. She had taught there two years, and…
(The photo above is Margaret Sherman’s class at the Gribbell School in Bartlow Township. Click on the photo to see a larger version.)
M. Is that right? And where, in this family of three children, where did you fall Lucille, were you the youngest?
L. No, I was the oldest.
M. The oldest?
L. I was the oldest.
M. You know what? We’re going to just make sure this is working, Hon.
M. I just want to make sure; I don’t want you talking here for nothing. Yep, it’s on. O.K. How do you feel that that would have changed your life or, or helped you in life? How, how, was your relationship being the oldest?
L. Well I don’t…
M. Did you have a lot of responsibility caring for…
L. Yeah, quite, quite a bit, I think, they were, well my sister was not quite two years younger and my brother was about three years, er, about four years younger and, uh, they have both passed away.
M. They have both passed away? Have they been gone a long time?
L. Uh, my sister has been gone eight years and my brother’s gone, been gone twenty years.
M. Is that right? Yeah, that’s tough isn’t it?
M. It’s hard when you have to…
L. And I’m the only one left of the three.
M. The only one left of the three, and you never married?
L. No (giggles), I’m just an old maid school teacher (laughs again).
M. An old maid schoolteacher, that’s okay.
L. It was very popular back in my days.
M. Yes, yep…
L. Yes, because they said if you got married, you know, that terminated your contract.
M. Is that right?
L. That’s true and that’s still on the contract that I got at Liberty Center and I’d already taught four years. (laughs)
M. Oh my goodness; that’s something. Things have changed haven’t they?
L. Oh my.
M. Now they give you maternity leave, and everything, PAID maternity.
M. Yeah, well, let’s see, Lucille, how did your parents meet? How did they come to get married?
L. Welt I think my brother had a, or my father, had a brother who was a pharmacist and had a drugstore in Holgate, and I think my mother, of course, lived between Holgate and Hamler and, uh, I don’t know how they got acquainted, but I had an aunt who was a teacher in Holgate and I think that maybe she stayed at Sherman’s one time and I think that’s why my dad got acquainted with my mother.
L. So they were married in 1912.
L. Uh huh, and I was born the next (hesitation) April.(giggles)
M. The next April.
L. (laughs) Yeah, yeah
M. How many years were they married, Lucille? Do you remember?
L. Uhh, let’s see, six, it wasn’t fifty years, well, let’s see, my dad died in 1956, take two, two from six is four, be forty-four would it be?
L. Forty-four years they were married
M. O.K. And he passed away in 1956?
L. 1956, uh huh.
M. My goodness, are they buried then around here?
L. Yes, they’re buried in St. Augustine Cemetery, uh, south of Napoleon.
M. …there’s a lot of history in those cemeteries as well.
L. That’s right, there are a lot of old monuments over there in that cemetery too, there.
M. Yes, yes, it’s fascinating to look at the dates.
L. That’s right.
M. On the births and the deaths, those that were soldiers.
M. So many different wars, yeah, it’s wonderful.
L. Well, my grandfather was in the Civil War.
M. Is that right?
L. And I, I don’t know how he got to, back to Napoleon after that but anyway, he landed here. (laughs)
M. Oh, my goodness,what was his name?
L. Joseph Sherman
M. Joseph Sherman?
L. Yeah, he’s uh, uh buried over there in that cemetery.
M. Uh, huh.
L. And my grandmother’s name was Christina Miller and she grew up right down here on the corner of Road S and on this road.l
M. Oh, all this history in your family right here.
M. That’s, that’s incredible. Well, let’s see, were there any experiences related to family size? Large family? You didn’t really have a large family…
L. No, No.
M. …but maybe a lot of cousins, aunts, uncles?
L. Well, quite a few cousins, yes, my dad had, I think, there were, uh, I think, there were six children in his family and my mother there were three girls and three boys, but uh, in my father’s family I think it was four boys and two girls and I think that’s the way it was. I’ll have to look at the old pictures sometime. Show you after while those. I’ve got those old family pictures.
M. I would love it, I would love to see. O.K.! That is a big, extensive family. L. Yeah, uh huh, in those days there were more.
M. Yeah, I know families have gotten smaller and smaller. Now it’s almost if you have a boy or a girl that’s that.
L. Well, there weren’t, I didn’t have a lot of cousins, I don’t know when my one uh, the uncle that lived in Holgate didn’t have any family and uh, let’s see, the most there were, there were four in my Uncle Charlie’s family but the others were two, two uh, two sons. My Uncle Gus had two sons and my Aunt Mary had two sons and, uh my Uncle Joe that lived next door had one son, and my other, other uncle lived over here on this other road and he’s the one who had the four children and my dad had a younger sister who was married and didn’t, and lived near Toledo and she just had one child so that was, so, wasn’t a big relationship.
M. Speaking of your grandparents, what roles did they play, meaning, would they for example, some people would record that they were raised by their grandparents, were you close to them?
L. No, my, my father’s parents, my grandparents Sherman, neither one of ’em were, they’d passed away before I was born, before my dad was married because his mother died when he was fourteen years old and she’d died suddenly in the house up here next door and then my dad and, there were two younger children, my dad and his sister and they lived with their dad until my dad decided to get married and he was thirty years old then, and, so and his, and his dad died the year before he got married, and then his sister went over to live with her, her sister over by Holgate and then she got married over there.
M. And how about your mom’s, your maternal grandparents?
L. Well, I knew them quite well because my grandmother died when I was about, I think maybe, in second or third grade when my Grandmother Flowers passed away and then my grandfather, I think, maybe I was about a freshman in high school, when he passed away.
M. So you knew him?
L. So he did quite well, he used to come to visit us quite often and…
M. Was that a pleasure? Was he a lovable guy?
L. Yes, yes, they were nice, he was a nice person.
M. Do you have a fond memory of your grandmas and grandpas? I just wondered if there’s anything that you remember special about.
L. Gee, I can’t, I know we used to go over there for Sunday dinner a lot and we always went on butchering day and they had a big brick house with a lot of play, bedrooms, you know, and we used to go over there and stay and uh, then after my grandparents passed away, my uncle lived there from, I suppose maybe twenty years and, but we always, but the families were rather close and…
M. That’s a blessing.
M. That’s a blessing to have that.
L. Yeah and my mother’s brothers all lived around Holgate and her one sister, and then she had another sister who was a nun.
M. Oh my good….
L. Uh huh and uh, she uh, she had been a school teacher, too.
M. A nun, so what faith are you, Lucille?
M. You are Catholic, well, I have to say, I haven’t met too many Catholics in Napoleon.
L. (Laughs) Oh, yeah (Laughs). Yes, this is a large German, a lot of German people and a lot of Lutheran people.
M. Well, that’s going to be one of my questions too, actually, what country did your parents, grandparents come from and when did they get here to our country?
L. Well, my grandfather came from Germany from the Baden Baden area of Germany and he came over here. I think he was eighteen or something like that. It was the time of the Prussian war and he came over here and then he got in the Civil War and I don’t know. I wish I knew more about the background because my dad never seemed to talk about it very much and I don’t know whether he knew or not but, I don’t know how he got into this area or where he landed or what but he was the only one in his family who ever came to America.
M. Is that right?
L. Uh huh, and my mother I think, as near as I know about my grandmother Sherman, I think she was born and raised right down here, off in this corner and, yes, my grandfather, he was in Sherman’s march to the sea.
M. Oh, course, I know when you mentioned that about Civil War, I thought, could this be THE Sherman?
L. (Laughs) No,our name you see, the German spelling was “Schuermann”, was the, but I don’t know where it got changed along the way, but that was the original spelling of it.
M. What do they say when you change it like that? It’s Americanized or Anglicized?
M. I have a name like that also. I’m also German.
L. Oh, uh huh.
M. But mine is a lot harder than yours, I’ll tell you after. OK, all right, you’re a German Catholic?
L. Yes, yes and there were, we live in Freedom Township and I think the Sherman family was about the only family, Catholic family that lived in, in Freedom Township, ‘cause all this over in here is German, you know. At St. Paul’s in the country, you know, is a large church and the one St. Paul’s and I mean St. John’s, St. Paul’s out west of town is a lot of German people, too.
M. Right, was that ever difficult for you having so many Lutherans around?
L. No, no, when I taught at the Viegel School, which was over by St. Paul’s in
the country, Reverend [name unknown] was the minister at the school and that’s the first year I taught there and he had just come that year too, to St. Paul’s, and his three children were in my school, and I’ll show you there pictures after while. Then my sister taught in that school also following me and they went to school to her and they were always, we always got along very well together and there was never any, any problems.
M. You know, I was just thinking, speaking of Germans and Catholics and Lutherans, Flower, that’s, that’s not German though, is it?
L. No, no, my grandfather was Pen, they always said was Pennsylvania Dutch and my grandmother, her name was Sweeny which was very, very Irish.
M. Yeah, yeah, so you really have a little mix in there?
L. Yeah, yeah, that’s right. I wasn’t completely full German, and my mother grew up down in Perry County which is east, south and east of Columbus and she moved up to Henry County when she was twelve years old and they bought that farm over by Holgate and moved up here.
M. Did she ever have any Irish celebration in her holidays, of any kind?
L. Oh, I don’t know, I don’t know. I can’t, not that I remember ‘cause I was just a little girl, you know, and she passed away and I just don’t know, but their name was Sweeny.
M. Yeah, that is a good Irish name. And I just wondered, with St. Patrick’s Day coming up here.
L. Yeah they, well, the parish, the church where they went to church was named St. Patrick’s Church so I think that was kind of an Irish settlement.
M. Well, we can’t expect to have all Germans.
L. No. (Laughs). You never have 100% anywhere.
L. That’s right.
M. It makes life more interesting doesn’t it?
M. Okay, let’s see what else do we have here? Okay, the primary language spoken at home?
L. Well, we always spoke English. My dad knew a little German but I think the fact that his mother passed away when she did, when she was only fifty years old, that the kids didn’t speak German, you know, and they got away from it. Now I don’t know whether the older ones maybe knew it pretty well but my dad really didn’t know a lot of German ‘cause he was only fourteen when she passed away. But out here in Freedom Township everybody spoke German you know and when I taught over at the Veigel School the kids would speak German on the playground, and I remember when they’d say run was always, “lope,lope”, you know.
M. You can hear it as if it were yesterday, huh?
L. (Laughs) Yes, there were, let’s see, two of those boys, two of those boys I had in school. One was in the second grade when I had him and the other one was uh, and then the minister’s boy was in the fourth grade, I think and both of those were, became Lutheran ministers and then Margaret uh, when my sister taught over there, there was a Wittenberg boy who also, well there were three Lutheran ministers out of that group of kids that we, that we had.
M. So, you wouldn’t have taught them in German?
M. You were using English.
L. Yeah, that’s right.
M. But because of their background they also heard some German?
L. Yes, now I don’t know whether the minister’s children, I can’t remember whether they knew much German or not but the other people who were ordinary residents of the area, you know, did speak German quite a lot.
M. And you said they’d be out there playing and they’d say, “run,run” lope?
L. “Lope, lope”.
M. And that means that?
L. (Laughs)That means run, yeah.
M. Okay, run, run.
M. Isn’t that cute? And you mentioned the name of that school. Tell me that again.
M. Is that the one room?
L. Yes, that was the one room.
M. Spell that for me.
L. (Spells, “Veigel”.)
M. O.K., how many years were you there at that school?
L. I was there two and Margaret was there two so we had that four years and then well, I was there the two and then I got a job at one grade at Liberty Center and Margaret was teaching over by Deshler which was about fifteen, twenty mile drive, you know? She had taught then two years and was going back for the third year, and then when I went to Liberty Center she just came over and took my school and it was just shortly before school started, so and, the superintendent, county superintendent was really glad because he had a school that had been closed and they had a teacher hired for that and he didn’t have a place to put her, so he put her in that Deshler school, Deshler area school. So it all worked out.
M. Yes, it did.
L. And then when, well, that was about the time in the late 30’s that they were beginning to close the one room schools. You know, people were gradually going into town, and…
M. Why did that happen, why, because they were going into town they thought, well, we’re gathering this group. It’s a bigger group of children.
L. Yeah, that’s right and they were kinda consolidating these areas, you know, and then gradually the one room schools got smaller and smaller you know, and then eventually, then when Margaret went into Napoleon, they took her along with it. I think it was one year. I don’t know whether it was one year or two years that she taught on the Napoleon board before she went in but they took her along then when they took the school in, but I had, I went to Liberty Center in 1939, the fall of ’39 and…
M. So you went from this one room school house to a bigger school?
L. Yeah, a consolidated school.
M. And you went from how many children approximately in the one room school house?
L. I, well, I had a pretty good size school over here. It was pretty, I had as many as twenty-eight one year.
M. Oh,my goodness!
L. Uh huh, and then when I went to Liberty Center I had fourth grade and I think I had about forty.
M. Is that right? No, today they would say no.
L. No, one year I had forty-six kids and I never had less than that in the fourth grade because I had the whole fourth grade that year ‘cause there weren’t enough to really take out a section you know, and the superintendent gave me that whole forty-six. If somebody moved out, out of the fourth grade, somebody else in the fourth grade moved in and I had that all year long.
M. What was it like teaching a size group like that?
L. Well, I had to have three groups of math, and I had to have three groups of reading and then the rest was together, you know and, I don’t know.
M. What did you like best? Did you like the one room or the consolidated school? L. Well, I guess I was, I was really working toward, where I just had one grade, you know, and I was glad to get that, but I enjoyed the one room school. They had their good points too.
M. Yeah, they’re so cozy looking, I don’t know, peaceful, almost, out there in that setting.
L. Yeah, they were. I said, “My goodness…” I remember we were talking about at noon today when we were eating and I said, “My, gosh!” We were talking about schools and they were talking about this home schooling and so on and, I said, “You know that [one word unknown] just think what little bit it cost for an education and the school board in those days. They paid the teacher in about a few tons of coal, that was it.”
M. Just so they gave you something that you needed.
L. Well, I got the first year I taught, I got $ 864.00 for the year. It was eight months of school, you see, and then, when I, the first year I taught at a
school out, just out a mile out of Napoleon. The Glass School it was called. Well, that only had a few kids so they closed that the next year and then, uh, what was I going to say about that? Oh, then when I went over to the Veigel School, gee, they thought they were doing real well because they raised it up to $960.00, and I thought, “Boy, that’s a good increase.”
M. Yeah, yeah, you wonder how you can survive but of course, the standard of living was lower.
L. Oh yeah, so nothing cost as much as today. I was just thinking today about that, how that first year, you know, was time of Depression and uh, I remember I bought, oh, Margaret, Margaret and Dick were still in high school. I remember I bought Dick a new overcoat that winter and I bought Margaret a nice new coat. Oh, she must have been over at Bowling Green in school. I think so and I bought her a nice coat with a raccoon collar. I said then, I don’t know, I was saving up because the only pay, they didn’t pay you over the summer. You had to have a little bit.
M. Did you, did you do anything over the summer, or kind of get ready for fall again?
L. Yeah I guess, well, I didn’t go to summer school ‘cause I, after I had taught two years, I and Margaret started teaching, I went back and did my other two years on campus but she went to summer school every summer and finished out her four years but I didn’t do that. I taught. Well, I taught that second year over by Holgate, south of Holgate and we drove over there; another teacher and I drove and it was and in the winter time. It was kind of bad and I thought, oh heck, she’s starting to teach so I’m gonna go back and finish the other two years. So, that’s what I did.
M. Let’s see, altogether you taught how many years?
M. 43 years and what different, other than the one room school house, which would be all the different grades, what grades did you teach? When you got into the consolidated school?
L. I taught fourth grade five years and then when World War II came along, I had my degree, so the superintendent put three of us that had a degree up at the high school because several of the men had to go to service and then I never went back to elementary, and I worked out, I had two minors. I remember when I was doing that, finishing out my other two years, the dean over at Bowling Green said, “You better work out a couple minors, rather than just all elementary, in elementary education, because you might want to change and you’d have something to go back on.” You know, I was glad that he told me that because then I taught, well, it was when I first started out. It was all junior high and then I went to summer school several summers to finish up my major in English and then I had two minors. I made two minors — English and and history, so I finished out the English then, then I taught junior level English in high school several years, and I taught Latin on a temporary certificate for fifteen years.
(The photo above is Lucille Sherman’s Fourth Grade class at Liberty Center taken during the 1941-1942 school year. Click on the photo to see a larger version.)
M. Oh my goodness. So when you were going to school and you say you took this English, you had to have had education courses too?
L. Yes, yes, see, I had, you know, they used to offer for elementary teachers, they offered a two year course. Well, that’s what I had when I first started
Teaching, was that two years, you see, and so, yeah, that and I had the education courses then. Most of them, and then, when I went back to finish the other two years they didn’t have a real strong program yet for elementary teachers to get a degree, but I took what was offered for kindergarten area and also for the upper grade area so that was mostly elementary.
M. You’re very well rounded, Lucille. You have a lot of experience and a lot of schooling. I mean, it’s almost, you could have taught anything.
L. I know.
M. Was there any subject that you, what was your favorite subject to teach?
L. I guess maybe English was.
M. English was, uh huh.
L. Yeah, uh huh, I guess I enjoyed the Latin but I look at some of those year books and I think, “My gosh! Did I have that many kids in that Latin class!” I’ve forgotten how, oh, I know the superintendent’s wife was teaching the Latin, well, she got sick and had to have surgery around Thanksgiving time, so I guess they were just teaching one year of Latin because that was kind of fading out, you know, by that time. And she, I don’t know, I guess maybe I had a study hall or a free period or something the period she had that class, so he asked me if I would take that class, so I said, well, you know, in those days you didn’t say no. And I spent my whole Thanksgiving vacation going through that Latin book. I just had high school Latin, and I remember the pronunciation and all that pretty well so…
M. You almost taught yourself then?
L. I did. I really taught myself as a Latin teacher, but you know, I had some kids go over to Bowling Green and take those tests and they were great sometimes. I guess they learned it, but that’s just something like math. It’s just progressive, you know, it’s different steps.
M. How do you feel about math then?
L. Well, I think math is pretty important, too, but I was never very strong myself in math, but my sister, that’s what she was in junior high, a math teacher, thirty-eight years.
M. See, and I just see, teachers that began in one room school houses had to be good at everything.
L. Ha, ha, ha. I know.
M. I mean, there was no one else to turn to. If something happened you were, you had to take care of them, it because there was nobody else.
M. Yes, that’s right.
L. I used to have a boy build a fire, and my Lord, it’s a wonder he didn’t burn the school house down. Sometimes he’d have that stove red hot by the time I’d get there. Then sometimes I’d get busy and forget about the fire, and it’d be almost out. I’d have to go back and put in some coal, put some gloves on, put some coal in.
M. Did that happen often in the winter where you had this fire going and then it starts to, to go out and everybody gets chilled? Did they have to go put on their coats?
L. Well, no, we always were pretty lucky and had it warmed up by the time kids got there. But I used to forget to put the fire, the coal on the fire sometimes, but it never went out, but it got pretty close to it sometimes.
M. Uh huh. What were those like, a little potbelly?
L. Well, this was a bigger stove than that. It was back in the corner of the room. A lot of them were in the middle of the room, you know?
M. Yes, that’s what I saw over at the fairgrounds.
M. Okay, so yours was more corner and bigger?
L. Yeah, it was kinda like a furnace, furnace type, yeah.
M. Was it a, was it a brick building or a…?
L. Yeah, a brick school.
M. A little, red, brick school house, yeah, and you had all the desks in rows? L. Yeah. Yours was up from, and was, I’m just going by the school over here again, was it up on a platform, kind of?
L. No, that wasn’t, but some of them were.
M. You know what I mean?
L. You’re referring to the school?
M. Um, well, where the teacher’s desk, where the children are, and then it’s almost like a little stage.
L. Yeah, have you been over to Sauder’s in that one?
M. No, but I’m going to go this summer. Especially after doing this, yeah.
L. Yeah, because the one over there is almost identical to the one I taught, the arrangement of it. Only it’s got the stove in the center I think, and it’s got the platform but other than that it’s very, very similar. I just, of course, I didn’t, I never worked in that school. I always worked in the log school in, over at Sauder’s, and uh, so my sister worked in the other one.
M. Well, Lucille, and I don’t mean to be going back to this all the time, but I do find it fascinating, not having grown up with one, a one room school house, how, what were the children doing when you were working with one age group, teaching them, keeping them busy? What would the others be doing?
L. O.K.,well, you see, we had a long recitation bench and that’s where they would recite, you know, and uh, you’d call them up there and they would, and we’d work with them for about maybe fifteen minutes is about all the time you had for one. And you’d probably check their papers and explain a new lesson and then give them the assignment. Then they’d go back and work on it and you’d call up another class and it went on like that all day long. And sometimes I wonder HOW ON EARTH did we EVER get all of that in and get… Yeah, you really had to be educated, you know, in all eight grades.
M. Yeah, they’re at such different levels at each year of their lives. I would just think it would be so confusing for you, the teacher to have to go back over and you’d be repeating all of the times. Really, wouldn’t you?
L. Well and you know, the kids learned, the older kids learned a lot, I mean, the younger kids learned a lot from listening to the older kids, you know, and I remember this Bob Beck who was a contractor; builds a lot of these buildings around town here. Do you happen to know who I’m referring to? Maybe not, but he’s he’s been quite a builder around town here. I had him in the first grade over there, and I remember he just had an awful time learning to write. I’ll never forget that, ‘cause I often thought I’d like to see his writing today, ‘cause he had an awful time learning to write (laughing sweetly the whole sentence).
M. It was not his strength?
M. It was, it was building. So I wonder, could you, do you remember with him, this is a good example, but here’s a little boy with not very good writing skills but what were his strengths?
L. It must, it must have been something else because he’s been quite a popular builder around here, and building some more. I see some more places out in Twin Oaks and he built these [on] King James [Court] back by the Holiday Inn, you know. And I haven’t seen him for years. He had, he had an older sister and then he had a younger brother and, I didn’t, he hadn’t started school yet, but Margaret, I think Margaret had him, but I’m not real sure. They moved, I
know, somewhere along the line and I often think about that. I just wondered how Bob Beck, how well he writes today. Different things like that you think about kids you know.
M. I was just going to ask you, I am a teacher myself and have only taught twelve years, so have not the experience. I remember certain children for some reason.
L. Certain peculiarities, yeah, some particular thing about them. I know and there’s so many, and they, and people say, I say, oh I remember that student I had and they say, well, how do you remember all that? I don’t know. I guess there was something about them that I remember.
M. Yeah, yeah, wouldn’t they be fascinated to know that they’re the one you remembered, or this is what you remembered about them?
L. I’ll have to tell you something that’s funny. Two years ago that class that I had, they were in junior high when I had them, had their fiftieth class reunion. Well, I was invited when they had that, when they had it at Liberty. They quit having it but they invited me ‘cause there weren’t very many teachers around any more. So, there were two boys that I had in school, and they were kinda ornery in junior high and this one told that, “One day,” he said, “We had name badges on but we took those off, because we didn’t think you would remember us.” And I said, “Yes, I remember you”, and they said, “You called us by our first names.”
L. I laughed. I said, “Yes, I really remember you”.
M. Oh, gosh, Lucille, I don’t know that I could do that (Lucille’s laughing the whole time). I don’t, when I think back.
L. I said, “I pulled it over on ya didn’t I?” They thought they were gonna fool me.
M. You remembered.
L. Oh, that was funny.
M. Oh dear, were they good boys?
L. Oh, they were good kids. They were just kinda devilish, you know?
M. Did you notice children changing over the years?
M. Respect or lack of respect?
L. I think it kinda changed when W.W.II came along.
M. Why is that?
L. It seems like things got kinda out of line, and they called in, I think they called in a lot of people that hadn’t been in the education for a long time, you know, and it just, it just wasn’t as smooth running as it had been before that. That’s the way I figure it. Well, of course, I taught on a different level too after that, but it was kinda, yes, I always felt that it kinda went down hill after that. Because kids didn’t have as, have as much respect, well and I, as I say it was on a different level, too, and they didn’t have as much respect for you as the grade kids did, you know. Well then, then there were so many mothers, you know, went to work too at that time, and I think that they didn’t have as much control over, over the kids at home, and…
M. Yeah, the Rosie the Riveters.
L. Yeah, some of them would say, well they had their, their mother and dad been working the same shift so they’d leave each other notes, you know, and the kids didn’t even see their mother and dad maybe during the week, but those were rough times.
M. Now the children at least have preschool, day care, where if those moms are working somebody watches [several words inaudible] time.
L. Yeah, yes, it’s entirely better. Yes, it’s altogether different.
M. I wonder what happened there. Why did women get into that habit of going back to work?
L. I guess they needed them in the factories, too, and it was easier to, I don’t know.
M. I bet you could see a big difference?
L. Oh yeah, there, there was, it’s, I always said that when the war came along it kinda changed the kids’ attitudes too, you know, and, and some of the parents, the father, would, maybe some of them, I guess some of their fathers even went into the service, you know and…
M. And maybe a lot didn’t come home.
L. Yeah, there was some…
M. They would ask in here about the kind of community. Right away I think it was a farm community and how did that affect your teaching? The children had to help on farms?
L. Yeah, and I think that’s why we only had eight months of school, because the boys had to help on the farm you see, to get the crops out.
M. Did the girls also?
L. No, it was, there was no school at all at the end of the, school ended about the last week in March, no, let’s see, maybe we went into April. We went into April I guess because now it’s the end of May, yeah, I guess maybe it was towards the end of April when we closed up.
M. And even in the consolidated schools in the towns?
L. Well the bigger ones, I think they did run longer but I think they, I think the kids could get a working permit to help on the farm in those days.
M. All of a sudden buses started… Maybe when, Lucille, do you remember?
L. The 30’s probably, the 20’s and the 30’s probably the buses came in, in the 30’s because I remember we lived in, this was township line road, and we were, we went to Napoleon to school because our township didn’t have a high school, and we could go to Napoleon. Well the boy that lived across the road here had to go to Liberty Center because that was Liberty Township, and he had to go to Liberty Center to high school and there was a bus, there was a bus came and picked him up, but we had, we had to furnish our own way to Napoleon, and I remember my, I guess my dad took us and, I can’t remember how, I don’t know we always got there.
M. I was going to say, what did he take you in?
L. They had a car.
M. Do you remember your first car?
L. Yeah, I can remember it was a Ford. I remember we went to Toledo to get it. I was just a little girl. Probably about 1914 or something like that, so we must have had a car pretty early. I don’t know.
M. You were modern to have it and I imagine it was a black car?
L. Oh, yeah, and the second car we had was a bigger car. It was called a Mitchell. That was a popular car around here.
M. I never heard of that. Not even the Ford Co.?
L. No, no it was a different company. I don’t know what company made them and anyway, a Mitchell car, and they were of course, they were touring cars, cars you know. You had to set side curtains and uh, oh dear (laughs) I guess.
M. Why don’t you tell us a little about that, I, I don’t even know what anybody who heard this would know.
L. Well, they had curtains and they were usually up around the top of the car and then if it would rain, why you could stop and pull those curtains down, you know, so you didn’t get wet, or in the winter time.
M. That’s like in OKLAHOMA. Isin glass curtains that would roll right down.
L. That’s right. They had Isin glass in them.
M. OK, fascinating.
M. How about Christmases?
L. Oh, we always, we always celebrated, we always got together, I think with probably, well, well with my mother’s family because my father’s family was kinda broken up, you know. …weren’t any, but as long as her parents were living we always went there on the holidays you know.
M. Did you have a Christmas tree?
L Gosh, I can’t remember. I don’t believe they did in those days, no not like today, uh, uh. I can’t remember when we first had a Christmas tree. I can’t remember, but…
M. How about exchanging presents?
L. Yeah, we used to do that, uh huh, yeah.
M. How about church at Christmas or Easter?
L. Well, we always, we always went to church on Christmas and Easter and usually, well, I suppose this was, wasn’t maybe ‘til I was in high school that we, that they always had midnight mass and we usually went to midnight Mass, Mass on Christmas, but I can’t remember before that how things were, but when I was in the first grade I went to the parochial school in Napoleon and I think, I think, my gosh, I was a little kid, a first grader, that didn’t know and went up there to school, and I don’t know how I got there all the time but I got there.
M. You just remember being there.
L. Yeah, and I remember I used to, I used to take my lunch with me but I would go home with some kid at noon and eat my lunch at their house. That was so funny and I’d go home. There were just certain ones, you know, that I’d go home with, and I sit there and eat my lunch you know, and then we’d go back to school.
M. What is the Catholic church named?
L. St. Augustine.
M. It’s a beautiful church.
L. Yeah, uh huh, yeah, it’s beautiful. Have you ever been inside? It’s beautiful inside. Yes, it’s on the historical (delay) record.
M. Has it changed much in all those years?
L. Not inside, no, the church itself hasn’t but they, they didn’t have that school there at that time. There was an old frame school when I was in the first grade and there’s, there’s a historical book. I think Mary Fran (Meekison) put it together, sev(eral), oh, maybe it was uh, 150th or something like that when that… There’s a picture, I think, of that school in there. I’ve got that somewhere but I don’t know just where it is now, but, anyway, they tore that out in the twenties and then we went, well, when my, I guess my parents decided that was too much problem, sending me up, sending us up there to school and I know I had the whooping cough and I had the measles. I had all that stuff in that first year and, so then, when, then Margaret started to school the next year, so then we went to a one room school which was a mile east on road S here. There was a school house uh, called the Bell School on that corner and we went down there then until they built the new parochial school and I think that was probably about 1928, and we went, but then I was in the seventh grade and we went to the seventh, I went to the seventh, eighth grade then there. Then I went into high school.
M. So you had three different schools? You started at the Catholic, then went to the one room school, then back to the new Catholic until high school?
L. Yeah, uh huh.
M. What would you say was your favorite?
L. I don’t know. I always liked the one room school too. We had, we had a couple nice teachers. I know, we had a teacher, I’m going to show you her picture here. She was so strict. She was a big person. She was so strict. Well, Margaret was just scared to death of her. I don’t know why, but she was, and, so they, in fact, she almost had a nervous breakdown. Well, she was really awfully strict, you know. You just didn’t do anything on the way and so… I guess my folks thought they didn’t know what they were going to do with her. She just, she didn’t, I don’t know whether she didn’t want to go to school or what, but anyway, so my mother invited her to come over to, one, one evening and, and stay over night. That took care of it.
L. She got all over that and never and, were always good friends with that teacher. She taught here, I don’t know, about three years, and then she went to Bryan, I think, and, you know, several years ago, maybe it’s ten years ago now that she saw Margaret’s name somewhere and she was from McClure and she saw Margaret’s name somewhere and she called us and wanted us to get together, so we did. She lived in Toledo and we went down to Toledo then and we spent a whole afternoon with her, [went] out to lunch together and a whole afternoon with her, but my goodness, that was way back. We were, we had taught quite a while then.
M. Did Margaret ever tell her how afraid she was?
L. I don’t know if she did or not. I think maybe my folks told her you know, but that, that took care of it. I don’t know.
M. She probably felt she had to be strict.
L. Yeah, well, she had big boys, you know, but I guess I’ve got a lot of memories.
M. Was she a young teacher then?
L. Yeah, that was her beginning. I think that was her beginning teaching.
M. She probably thought being young herself she had to be tough. I think the children pick up on that. It takes a while for them to develop that respect
L. Yeah, you get a reputation, you know.
M. What was your reputation, Lucille?
L. (Laughs) Oh, I don’t know. Lots of times I think I was a little too easy.
M. (Laughs) I could see that. And your stature, you’re petite. Not a big person at all, so that could make a difference also. So, fond memories; how did you have lunch at the one room school?
L. Oh, at the one rooms? Well, we always took our lunch and then they kinda got so they would maybe, a certain day of the week or sometime, they would have, we’d, maybe cook hotdogs or something like that, you know.
M. In that…?
L. In that, on that, yeah, it must have been in that stove. I don’t know, I suppose they put some hot water on. See, you could cook something like a hotdog you know and and we used to do, then it kinda got so they did that once in awhile in the one room school but, you had to carry your own lunch.
M. And you didn’t have paper bags back then, brown bags?
L. No, we had a round, a round metal dinner pail.
M. And what would your mom pack for you?
L. Oh, a sandwich, yeah, of some kind, and…
M. A drink somehow, would that fit in there, or…
L. Uh, no, I don’t, we had, we took anything to drink, but some baked, something baked probably. But we, I know we used to have a lot of fried egg sandwiches.
M. I even remember that. I still love them.
L. And that’s funny, a cold, a cold fried egg.
M. Yeah, a cold fried egg, yup, yup.
L. But, yes, I remember, I remember [several words inaudible] down here at the, by the, at the Bell School. Their name was Oberhouse and there were several in the family and they were German, and they always had a open face sandwich, and they’d have little pieces of meat on that open face sandwich.
M. And I often thought open faces were more Danish, rather than German.
L. But they’d have a whole big piece of bread you know, and then had that.
M. And I wonder why. That would be harder to pack?
L. Yeah, we never had that. We always just had our two face sandwich.
M. Yeah, yeah.
Lucille’s grandfather, Joseph Sherman, built the farmhouse in Napoleon in 1862. It is still standing and she lives in a one level home right next door. Her family built the house she is in now in 1948.
The Gribbell School is in Bartlow Township and is where Margaret Sherman taught from 1936 to 1937.
One room school houses were first established in the 1800’s. There was no graded system until after 1840. The earliest schools were made of logs which were replaced by frame structures and finally by brick. They were usually built two miles apart and named after the land owner’s name they were situated on. Students sat at individual desks which were bolted to the floor. Later they were set on runners. Some schools even had organs, always recitation benches and pictures. The older boys served as janitors and were responsible for building the stove fires.
The daily class schedule went something like this:
Classes called up for approximately 15 minutes, papers collected and assignments given
Call up another class and sometimes combined classes
Recesses consisted of the following games: Red Rover, London Bridge, Fox and Geese, Hide the Thimble, Upset Fruit basket
School events: Box Social, Christmas Program which included a treat of candy and an orange, and the End of the Year Picnic.
Teacher Requirements: Boxwell Exam, 1880’s 1 year Temporary Certificate and 2 year to 4 year Provisional Certificate, 1900 Normal School, 1940’s Bachelor’s Degree, 1960 – B.S. Degree, could not be married early in the history of school teaching.
Most one room schools were gone by 1950.